Game developer playing their game, testing out project

After years of pledging support for its Stadia cloud-gaming platform, Google plans on shutting the project down in January 2023.

“A few years ago, we also launched a consumer gaming service, Stadia,” Phil Harrison, vice president and general manager of Stadia, wrote in a posting on Google’s official blog. “And while Stadia's approach to streaming games for consumers was built on a strong technology foundation, it hasn't gained the traction with users that we expected so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down our Stadia streaming service.”

Google will reportedly integrate the streaming and cloud technologies built for Stadia into other products, including YouTube and Google Play. “We remain deeply committed to gaming, and we will continue to invest in new tools, technologies and platforms that power the success of developers, industry partners, cloud customers and creators,” Harrison added.

Over at The Verge, there’s a nifty breakdown of all the times Google pledged to transform Stadia into a long-term, sustainable business. However, it’s clear that players weren’t interested in Google’s attempts to make cloud-based gaming more of a thing. Stadia now joins hundreds of other projects in Google’s ever-growing graveyard, from Google Plus to Nest Secure.

Simply put, Google isn’t a gaming company, although it’s very good at building websites and cloud infrastructure at global scale. It failed in its attempts to launch a game-production studio to go with Stadia, despite offering tons of resources, high salaries, and stability. It also never convinced third-party developers and studios that Stadia was a prime platform for game development.

However, the rest of the video game industry is still going strong, with key studios earning billions of dollars per year off bestselling games. According to Lightcast (formerly Emsi Burning Glass), which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, video game designers make a median annual salary of $85,943 per year, and those with more than nine years of experience can easily earn six-figure salaries. Meanwhile, Glassdoor plugs game designer salaries at $117,191 per year.

That’s not to say the video game industry is controversy-free. For years, game designers have complained about relatively low pay, long hours, and the dreaded “crunch time.” But to their credit, at least some studios are making an earnest attempt at solving these problems. For game designers, the industry offers a lot of opportunity to make a mark—but they won’t be making that mark with Stadia.